Dan Parks: Don’t underestimate the Scots or the Sydney Stars

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Sydney Stars assistant coach and former Scottish international Dan Parks has warned fans not to underestimate Scotland or the Stars this weekend, as his two sides look to keep their NRC and World Cup campaigns alive respectively.

The Australian born flyhalf earned 66 caps for Scotland between 2004 and 2012 and told Rugby News he expected the Scots to put up a fight against the highly fancied Wallabies.

“It’s a massive opportunity, it’s the biggest game they’ve had in the last eight years,” the 37-year old said.

“They will need to get into a dog fight if they are going to win though. If it’s an open running affair, I can’t see Scotland winning because Australia have too many weapons, but if Scotland can make it a bruising affair, almost like a South African style of game, then maybe they can get on top.”

Parks said Michael Cheika would be crazy to name anything but a full strength side for Monday morning’s clash, as Scotland look to book a spot in their first World Cup semi final since 1991.

“I think it’s absolutely absurd to think that you’d ever rest players for a knockout match, that’s absolutely crazy. I doubt the coaching staff are thinking that, but that’s what you keep hearing and I really don’t understand it.”

He continued to say that Scotland would be comfortable going into the match as underdogs, admitting that it was the case in most Test matches that he played.

“It was something we thrived on, we loved it.”

“They’ll be listening to the Australian media talk up the Wallabies and label them as ‘easy beats’ but to be honest that’s the best motivation you can give Scotland,” he added.

But before Monday morning’s quarter final, Parks will look to guide the Sydney Stars to their first NRC finals appearance with a victory over the Melbourne Rising on Sunday.

Like the Scots, Parks said the Stars were clearly the underdogs heading into the must win clash, but warned against writing off this year’s most improved side.

“The Melbourne side is full of contracted players looking to play their way into the Super Rugby side for next season so they have plenty to play for, but it’s also a great opportunity for our guys to go out and try and match them.”

After a strong start to the season the Stars sit in third position heading into the final round, but after a bye last week, they must win against the Rising to keep their season alive.

“We had a short turnaround the week before so the bye came at the perfect time really. We gave the guys the week off, then they came back on Monday and training has gone really well all week.”

“It’s been a great year, but it sort of all counts for nothing if we don’t make the playoffs. It’s something we definitely didn’t talk about at the start of the year, but you always want to be in the finals so if we can do that, it’d be a great achievement.”